S2 – 15: Hidden Causes of Weight Gain with Dr. Jill Carnahan

Welcome to The Betty Rocker Show, the place to be to nourish your mind, love your body, and rock your life.

Join me and functional medicine practitioner Dr. Jill Carnahan as we take a look at some of the root causes of fat gain she sees in her practice that people don’t often expect.

Dr. Jill has been on the podcast before – you may remember her from our in depth conversation about mold and how to test for and treat it (Season 2, Episode 2). I’m happy to report that under her care I have cleared it from my system (a 3 year journey) and am functioning once more at my best.

Today we’re checking in about my recovery and talking about some of the many underlying triggers that cause weight gain. Here who is a good candidate for intermittent fasting (and who isn’t) plus more on hormone health, some insights on how to read labs, recommendations for adaptogenic herb use, and so much more!


From her site:

Since my childhood, I have always been passionate about seeking answers to complex problems. I grew up on a farm, witnessing firsthand the resilience of life in the face of difficulty.

I decided to become a doctor because I strongly believed in the capacity of the human body to heal and overcome even the most dire circumstances – if given the right tools.”



In this episode, you’ll discover:

Welcoming back Dr. Jill Carnahan (0:034)

  • Checking in on how her mold treatment of me has resolved and where I’m at
  • Listen to our first episode together, all about mold, testing for it and treating it
  • The background of symptoms I noticed when this started

Root causes of weight gain from environmental toxins (4:19)

  • When you’re doing things right and still not seeing results
  • How some toxins block leptin receptors and how this impacts weight gain
  • Mold is just one of the environmental toxins that can cause weight gain
  • Why the body stores fat when it’s dealing with a toxic burden

How your adrenals can be at the root cause of weight gain (7:42)  

  • How your adrenal glands work
  • The master regulator: the HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis)
  • How too much stimulation produces too much cortisol
  • Signs of dysregulated cortisol
  • How the adrenal glands support your hydration levels and blood sugar levels and why this is important

Thyroid dysregulation and how it can cause weight gain (9:31)

  • Reviewing the triggering events that can overwhelm the stress response: NUTS
  • NUTS: Novelty, unpredictability, threats, and sense of control
  • The horse and cart analogy: adrenals and thyroid working together
  • Why treating just the thyroid alone doesn’t always lead to the outcome we are hoping for

What Dr. Jill looks for when reading lab values using thyroid and cortisol as an example (16:40)

  • What kind of thyroid panel to order
  • Which markers to look at
  • Why “ranges of normal” might not tell the whole story
  • Timing for cortisol testing
  • Why working with a functional medicine doctor helps you see the big picture and address root cause

Today’s podcast is brought to you by ROCK YOUR LIFE, my online home workout studio and uplifting women’s fitness community where you can enjoy programs and challenges to build strength for consistent, sustainable progress. Enjoy new classes each week, healthy recipes, a private women’s only support community and MORE!

New members can get a 30-Day Trial RIGHT HERE!


How does a dysregulated thyroid cause weight gain? (20:03)

  • How the thyroid works to regulate our metabolism
  • Why not eating enough causes weight gain

When does Dr. Jill recommend fasting, and who is it good for from her perspective as a doctor? (22:21)

  • Why not everyone needs to fast (or use a ketogenic diet)
  • The specific subset who can benefit from these dietary strategies
  • How these dietary interventions help those with specific medical conditions
  • Learning more about insulin resistance
  • Why applying a strategy that works for those with a medical condition isn’t always the answer for everyone

Dr. Jill’s personal experience with IF from years ago (25:29)

  • Combining daily HIIT training with her intermittent fasting
  • How she was putting on body fat
  • The advice Dr. Jill got from another practitioner
  • How medical training doesn’t prepare doctors for the physiological impact of dietary and exercise strategies
  • What happened when Dr. Jill dropped the intense daily cardio and swapped it for more resistance training
  • What happened as she started fueling and stopped fasting

Strategic cardiovascular exercise is great, excess cardio is not so great (27:48)

  • Training in balance with both resistance training and HIIT in their proper place as opposed to cardio all the time
  • The importance of balancing that with the nutritional component, stress reduction and sleep
  • How many women I see who come to me burned out and overtrained with bad messaging from diet culture
  • Why I love walking and how it helps with fat loss

Why your doctor shouldn’t necessarily be telling you how to eat and train (28:49)

  • Doctors are not trained on nutrition in medical school
  • A medical doctor with training prescribing intermittent fasting or the ketogenic diet for a specific medical concern would be checking regularly on bloodwork and seeing the impact of these strategies on glucose levels, stress response and more

The importance of looking at body composition (muscle to fat ratio), not just “weight loss” (29:48)

  • Why adding muscle isn’t “gaining weight”
  • Shifting the focus away from weight loss and more toward overall health and strength
  • Training smarter, not harder
  • Comprehensive content about training strategies to shift body composition for different stages of life including training with your cycle, training in peri and post menopause can be found in this post

Women specific hormone considerations (32:09)

  • Women have a complex hormone system compared to men
  • The adrenals and a young woman’s cycle
  • What happens with the adrenals in peri and post menopause
  • Why we need to be gentler with ourselves in the later life stage and avoid cortisol spikes
  • The importance of specific fueling and training strategies for women in peri and post menopause

The catabolic vs anabolic state (36:16)

  • What a catabolic state is and what it breaks down
  • How cortisol is connected to catabolism
  • What an anabolic state is
  • The importance of staying in touch with our bodies
  • Putting all the pieces together

Adaptogenic herbs and how Dr. Jill recommends using them in her practice (38:42)

  • General recommendations for those in their 20’s and 30’s with bad PMS, weight gain symptoms, or fertility boost
  • General recommendations for those in their 40’s and 50’s with low estrogen and progesterone
  • How recycling and processing estrogen is important for reducing cancer risk
  • Recommendations for hot flashes
  • Recommendations for adrenal support
  • My own experience with adaptogens
  • Blog post: 6 Adaptogens that support hormone balance 

How to connect with Dr. Jill Carnahan and her work (42:32)

  • Dr Jill’s website and blog articles
  • Dr. Jill has a new book coming out in February 2023
  • Dr. Jill’s instagram

I teach you all of this in my challenge programs in Rock Your Life. We have everything from foundational bodyweight challenge programs, to challenges that include dumbbells and simple home workout equipment, all the way up to weight training challenges that you do with heavier weight, and I teach you all the progressions.


We have many conversations about women’s health topics inside Rock Your Life, my online home workout studio and women’s fitness community. In my regular office hours I’m able to connect with the members and answer their questions and share more information that relates to them specifically.

If you’re not a member yet, I highly encourage you to join us, you can get a 30 day trial and come see what you’ve been missing.

I’ve got a huge class library with over 1000 classes of all types, including foundational bodyweight strength training, workouts where you can add in some simple home workout equipment like dumbbells and stretchy bands, all the way up to heavier weight training classes.

There are barre classes, yoga classes, mobility classes, plyometrics and circuit. Plus I’ve got dozens of guided workout challenges to give you the perfect sequence to progress through. I see incredible stories every day from my Rock Your life home gym members, and being able to support them in our private women’s fitness community alongside the Team Betty Rocker coaches is a wonderful experience.

I encourage you to grab that 30 day trial so you can see what it’s all about and take your time enjoying everything I have to offer without any pressure or obligation.

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New shows are released every other week during Season 2 of The Betty Rocker Show.

The post S2 – 15: Hidden Causes of Weight Gain with Dr. Jill Carnahan appeared first on The Betty Rocker.

Author: Leta Peters